Sports

Trojans, Eagles sweep Oly League crowns

Olympic’s Patrick Middleton, a freshman, puts the tag down on Bremerton’s Billy Davenport in Thursday’s 5-4 Olympic League-clinching win. - Jesse Beals/staff photo
Olympic’s Patrick Middleton, a freshman, puts the tag down on Bremerton’s Billy Davenport in Thursday’s 5-4 Olympic League-clinching win.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photo

Olympic baseball league champions outright.

When the season began, Olympic baseball coach Nate Andrews wasn’t sure what to make of his mix of youthful experience.

And while he’s still not sure how his team will respond to the next challenge — the postseason — he knows what they’ve done so far.

With a 5-4 win Thursday at Kitsap Fairgrounds Ballfields, the Olympic Trojans clinched the 3A Olympic League title.

“That’s something no one can take away from them,” Andrews said. “That’s something that’ll go on the banner, something they can be proud of.”

With the win, the Trojans improved to 16-3 overall and 14-2 in league play, winning the league title outright. But even more important than the title itself is the No. 1 seed into the West Central District III Tournament that comes along with it.

“That was our goal,” Andrews said. “Our goal was to be No. 1. We wanted to make sure we accomplished that.”

While the seed assures Oly a more favorable first-round pairing, the Trojans will have a tough road to regionals regardless of who they play. With the No. 1 seed out of the Oly League, the Trojans will travel to Kent-Meridian to battle either South Puget Sound League champs Bonney Lake or Seamount League winners Mount Rainier, which beat Oly in the first round of districts last year.

“Bottom line is we’re playing a league champion,” Andrews said.

But the Trojans got a warm-up against a high-quality opponent in River Ridge, currently the No. 2-ranked 2A team in the state according to washingtonbaseballpoll.com, last night. Results were unavailable at press time.

The game was originally slated for mid-March, but weather cancelled that date. The timing may have worked out better for Olympic, however, as now the game will make for a nice postseason tune-up.

“We’ll see some decent pitching,” Andrews said of River Ridge. “We’ll jump on ’em and see if we can’t get a win.”

In Thursday’s win against Bremerton (3-15), the Trojans led 5-0 before errors opened the door for a Bremerton comeback. The Trojans committed seven errors in the win despite a complete-game effort from starter Riley Crow, who improved to 7-0 this season individually.

“These guys are young and they’re not able to rest on their laurels,” Andrews said of the errors.

But even with the team’s youth (the Trojans played two freshmen and five sophomores Thursday), Andrews said the playoff experience will be beneficial, no matter how long the stay.

“From my perspective, any time you can get into the postseason, be in that environment, it’ll just help yourself,” he said.

The Trojans’ bats were solid Thursday, with Chris Campbell going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Jordan Halstead was 2-for-3 with an RBI while Crow helped his own effort by going 2-for-2 with two RBI. Ian Krein ripped a triple in the win.

The Trojans have had mixed success at the plate of late. While standout Elliot Thorsen has been back in the lineup after missing time earlier this season fighting illness, he’s still trying to get his swing back. But the team has made progress, Andrews said, as evidenced by the recent hot bat of senior Bryan Deszell, who nearly made a great diving catch against Bremerton after chasing down a long fly ball. The team also lost key sophomore Blake Johnson to a head injury earlier this season.

But with much of the team returning, in some cases for two and three more seasons, Andrews reiterated the potential importance of this year’s playoff stand for future Trojan teams.

“If we continue to grow and have success again next year and the next year, those games will be like stock,” he said. It’ll just keep helping ourselves.”

Mt. Rainier and Bonney Lake play today, with the winner taking on the Trojans in a 7 p.m. game Tuesday.

“We’ll find out where we’re at,” Andrews said.

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